Photograph of Colorado Mountain Range
Mesa Autumn Wild Horses oil_rig_OG Boaters Photograph of Ruin
BLM>Colorado>Programs>National Conservation Lands>Wilderness
Print Page
Powderhorn Wilderness

  Powderhorn Wilderness

Powderhorn Wilderness (Photo by Bob Wick)

The Powderhorn Wilderness is found in a rugged, glacier-carved landscape of the northern reaches of the San Juan Mountains. The area consists of large expanses of alpine tundra, spruce forests, and several alpine lakes at nearly 12,000 feet in elevation. Breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains are available in this wilderness. Above 12,000 feet are two high-elevation plateaus that make up the largest relatively flat expanse of alpine tundra in the lower 48 states.

These plateaus were created by Teritary volcanic deposits believe to be 5,000 feet thick in some areas. The Cannibal Plateau, Devil's Lake, the Powderhorn Lakes, and Powderhorn Creek are also intriguing features. Visitors can explore more than 45 miles of trails within this area, including Powderhorn Lakes Trail, East Fork Trail, Powderhorn Park Trail, Middle Fork Trail, and Devil's Creek Trail.

Total Area:
47,980 acres
Elevation Range: ~8,600 to ~12,600 feet
BLM Field Office: Gunnison
Designated: 1993 (National Wilderness Preservation System)

Location: The Powderhorn Wilderness is located in Hinsdale and Gunnison counties, approximately 26 miles southwest of Gunnison. The wilderness extends an additional 14,270 acres onto USFS land.

Flora & Fauna:
Vegetation consists mainly of spruce, aspen, pine, fir, grasses, forbs, and mountain shrubs. Fauna includes elk, mule deer, black bear, beaver, and bighorn sheep.

Recreation: Activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, and photography. For more information, visit the Recreation page. Please note that though unconfined recreation is encouraged in wilderness, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of wilderness conditions.

Click here for additional information about the Powderhorn Wilderness from the Gunnison Field Office.

As stated in the Wilderness Act of 1964, Sec. 4 (c) , "...there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area."

< Back to main Wilderness page

Gunnison Field Office  |  (970) 642-4940  |  650 S. 11th St., Gunnison, CO 81230